As Chair of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, I am delighted to be here today alongside my Ministerial colleagues to jointly launch the 2019/2020 ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign.
Just moments ago, we concluded a meeting of the taskforce, which heard from all of the key Government departments and agencies as we prepare for the real challenges posed by the winter months.
This is now the ninth ‘Be Winter Ready’ Campaign. When we consider the sort of weather events we have endured in recent times, such as Storm Emma and Storm Ophelia, I think people will agree that these sort of awareness campaigns are really important.
As the chair of the Government Taskforce, I saw during these storms the importance of all the key departments and agencies coming together, building our resilience, keeping the public informed and the country ‘winter ready’.
Of course, we all hope that there will be no severe weather events in store for us this winter.
Unfortunately, this may not be the case and our preparedness, as individuals and as a government, should be based on prudent planning and not the good fortune of a mild winter.
This year’s ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign is focused on “Met Éireann’s Weather Warnings”.
The Office of Emergency Planning, in collaboration with their colleagues in Met Éireann, have designed and produced a leaflet on these weather warnings. This leaflet and leaflets from previous ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaigns are available on the winterready.ie website.
Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack has agreed to explain these warnings in greater detail later.
Before I conclude, I would like to recognise the commitment and dedication of our front line responders and the work of our Local Authorities in maintaining other essential services during severe weather events.
I would also like to acknowledge the work of individuals, community groups and the voluntary emergency services for the essential assistance they provide.
Having well-prepared plans and preparations in place locally and within our communities remains a key factor for coping with the adverse impacts from severe weather.
The ‘Be Winter-Ready’ website and the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ booklet provide very practical advice on winter preparations. They, together with the links to other public service websites, bring all of the relevant information together in a coordinated manner. I would, therefore, ask you all to take some time to explore these sites and to read the booklet.
The Office of Emergency Planning will be providing advice through social media over the winter months as part of the campaign.
Today, I am also asking for the assistance of the media in helping to get the campaign message to the public. The main message remains a simple one, be prepared, stay safe, know where to find help if you need it and be prepared to help others if you can.
I will now hand over to my ministerial colleagues who will provide you with further information about the work of their departments.